Justice admit to using uncleared samples on their † album.
During an interview with MTV, they confirmed that their debut full length is littered with samples of other people's work, including heavyweight artists such as Queen, 50 Cent and masked nu-metallers Slipknot. During a conversation regarding their production techniques, Justice's Xavier de Rosnay had the audacity to tell the interviewer, "Say we use the In Da Club hand clap — not even 50 Cent would notice." You might have thought that he would stop at this theoretical point, but then went on to explain that "if you listen to 'Genesis,' the first track (on †), there are samples of Slipknot, Queen and 50 Cent, but they are such short samples no one can recognise them. The ones from Slipknot, for example, are just tiny bits of the voice."
He then went on to say that they did actually licence some of the samples that had a larger duration, but with the smaller ones just masked them so that they would be difficult to detect. "On the album, we used three big samples that we had to clear, and all the rest are just impossible to recognize," he continued. "We're using the very short samples to improve the sound, because we are just writing melodies on piano and then we are listing each note taken from other records, so we make a trade between those notes and the proper loops."
This leaves the duo on somewhat rocky legal territory, as in previous US court cases the general outcome seems to have been in favour of the artist that has had their work sampled. In 2004 this was taken its most extreme outcome during an appeal case regarding NWA's lifting of a three-note sample from Funkadelic's Get off Your Ass and Jam for their 100 Miles and Runnin track." They ruled that any use of a digital sample of a recording without a license is a violation of copyright, regardless of size or significance. The logic of their argument is such: any form of digital sampling is akin to music piracy, and in the case of NWA, as they admitted that they audio was digitally sampled, they have already admitted to infringing sampling legislation. The court went on to add that "even when a small part of a sound recording is sampled, the part taken is something of value." It is unclear whether this hard line attitude extends to analogue sampling, but even if it didn't, the court would make their judgement depending on the duration and recognisability of the sample being scrutinised.
The duo are currently in the studio recording material for their follow up album, and will release a DVD documenting their US tour later this month.
Ed Banger will release the Across The Universe DVD on November 24th.